Michael Lieberman and Andrea Carla Michaels’s New York Times crossword — Sophia’s write-up
Theme: MOVIE BUFFS, but with the term repurposed to mean buff guys in movies
- 17a [Hunky star of “Aquaman”] – JASON MOMOA
- 31a [Hunky star of “Magic Mike”] – CHANNING TATUM
- 40a [Hunky co-star of “Rocky III”] – MR T
- 47a [Hunky co-star of the “Fast & Furious” franchise] – DWAYNE JOHNSON
- 63a [Avid fans of cinema … or a punny description of 17-, 31-, 40- and 47-Across] – MOVIE BUFFS
This is a highly amusing theme, and one that I did not guess the revealer of until I got to it and laughed. I’m not sure the last time I heard the word “hunky” used unironically, so thanks NYT for the word choice there. I thought it was fun overall, and I liked the group of guys selected, who are all well-known for their buff-ness.
This is a proper-noun based crossword, which naturally will make it harder for some solvers. However, hopefully the fact that three of these movies came out in the last few years (and got a *lot* of buff guy advertisements) will help folks out. MR T is the only one who hasn’t been doing anything lately, but honestly his name is so short here that he’s basically a bonus answer and shouldn’t hinder anyone’s solve too much. My only other hold up was figuring out if the Fast and Furious clue was referring to DWAYNE JOHNSON or Vin Diesel – there are a lot of buff guys in that franchise.
Good longer stuff overall in the rest of the puzzle even with 5 theme answers! Loved GRADUATE, SEA LEGS, VITRIOL, CERAMIC. Also LASER TAG >>>> paintball. The only thing I really didn’t like in the puzzle was BY GUM – is this a thing? I only know “dadgum” and I’ve never even heard that in real life. I also did not love the [“Chopsticks ___ fork?”] for OR A, which felt a little forced.
Happy Monday all!
Jay Silverman’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Denizens”—Jim’s review
Theme answers are familiar phrases that start with a type of bear. The revealer is BEAR DOWN (36d, [Put in extra effort, and a hint to the starts of the starred answers]).
- 3d. [*Cold weather driving hazard] BLACK ICE. Black bear.
- 6d. [*Rhode Island school since 1764] BROWN UNIVERSITY. Brown bear.
- 7d. [*Complete antithesis] POLAR OPPOSITE. Polar bear.
- 16d. [*Flavorful garnish for a mulled drink] CINNAMON STICK. Cinnamon bear. I assumed a cinnamon bear was a type of sweet treat, but no, it’s an actual type of bear.
The revealer phrase seems like it would lend itself easily to some sort of trickiness, like an Across phrase turning Down at some point. So I was maybe a little surprised that there was none of that going on. I probably shouldn’t have been though, seeing how it’s a Monday.
Can’t say the theme excited me much, but it’s solid nonetheless.
There is some definite non-Monday fill here though, starting off at 1a with ALB. It took me just a few seconds to change this to BRB with BEAU and REAR at 1d and 2d respectively, and I’d bet there’s something better besides.
Elsewhere there’s the 1950s director George CUKOR, Italian DUOMO, the infinitive TO LIVE, Cheri OTERI, and LONG TONS. That’s too much iffy fill for my taste, especially in a Monday grid. I do like the colloquial “WE MADE IT!” though.
Clues of note:
- 16a. [“Born Yesterday” director George]. CUKOR. I never heard the name, but you could at least clue him with respect to the film that won him the Oscar for Best Director: My Fair Lady.
- 49a. [Christian, man of the cloth?]. DIOR. Nice clue there.
- 62a. [How you might bravely solve this puzzle]. IN INK. Especially if you solve on a screen!
Lynn K. Watson’s Los Angeles Times crossword — Stella’s write-up
The revealer in this puzzle is as short as can be — just three letters. The central entry at 37A [Role-playing game with a 20-sided die, familiarly, and a feature of this puzzle’s four longest answers] is DND, short for Dungeons & Dragons. Every theme entry is a three-word phrase in which the first and last words start with D, and the middle word is AND (the ‘N’ in DND):
- 17A [Move with a mouse, say] is DRAG AND DROP.
- 27A [Farrelly Brothers comedy] is DUMB AND DUMBER.
- 43A [Small, irregular amounts] is DRIBS AND DRABS.
- 58A [Eat without paying the bill] is DINE AND DASH. Please don’t do this. It’s illegal for restaurant owners to make wait staff cover the loss when diners skip the bill, but based on what I hear at Tales From Your Server, it’s not a particularly uncommon practice.
Things I liked in this grid: CINDERELLA, COBWEBS, MIXED MEDIA. Something I wasn’t crazy about: ATILT and AGLOW in the same grid.
Matthew Stock’s Universal crossword, “Inflation Measures” — pannonica’s write-up
- 60aR [Accumulating unnecessary rebounds or assists, and a hint to the last words of 18-, 27- and 47-Across] STAT PADDING. Those three answers add a letter to S-T-A-T.
- 18a. [Electric guitar played by Jimi Hendrix] FENDER STRATocaster. Clue needs a ‘familiarly’-type qualifier.
- 27a. [Kick into gear] JUMP START.
- 47a. [Brutus Buckeye’s school] OHIO STATE.
So the extra letters are: R, R, E. I can imagine that R would stand for ‘rebound’ but does E relate to ‘assist’? Or are these letters just random, as it seems to me? If that’s the case, the theme doesn’t feel fully developed or coherent to me.
- 4d [Concludes from evidence] INFERS. People confusing infer and insinuate seems to be a phenomenon that will never go away.
- 11d [Contented cat’s sound] PURR. But not always, as I chronically remind everyone.
- 32d [There’s no going back from this!] ONE-WAY TRIP. Yikes.
- 17a [Quick suggestion?] RECommendation.
- 52a [Family history diagram] PEDIGREE. I don’t believe that it’s the diagram, per se, but a diagram can represent a pedigree. N’est ce pas?
- 68a [Unbeatable foes] NEMESES. Once again, I question the validity of the clue. Unbeatable, really?
Apologies if I sounded too nitpicky or critical, but that’s my take on this crossword. And maybe there’s residual fallout from being a bit bewildered by the theme. Again. maybe I’ve missed something that shores it all up.
Kameron Austin Collins’s New Yorker crossword–Amy’s recap
Now that’s what I’m looking for: a Monday New Yorker puzzle with smart fill and tricky cluing. 4.5 stars from me. Good stuff!
Fave fill: F-BOMB right off the start (heck, yeah!), multiple literary references, high-end vocab COLOPHONS ([Discoveries at the ends of books] is the old-school meaning, but publishing-house/imprint logos are the more familiar meaning), man with the IRON MASK, MENSCH, FORMULAIC, BONE MARROW (did you know the kidneys send the message to the marrow to make those blood cells?), Bob Marley’s ONE LOVE, DIAPER RASH and FRENCH ROAST (a match made in heaven!), “GOT YOUR NOSE,” “HOME AT LAST,” “GO EASY ON ME” (my mantra!), and RADIO EDIT.
Don’t know what WATER ROT is, precisely, but it was gettable.
A few clues:
- 41a. [People with a reindeer-husbandry tradition], SAMI. Indigenous people of far northern Europe, predating the Vikings. Don’t call them “Laplanders” as they may find it insulting.
- 5d. [“Dope”], “BET.” I’m too old and too white to get away with using this slang, but I basically understand it! I’m doing all right for myself.
- 27d. [It’s cut to air], RADIO EDIT. The de-sweared version of a song that can play on commercial radio without requiring bleeps. For example, CeeLo Green’s 2010 hit “Fuck You” was “Forget You” on the radio, or the lyric “wet and gushy” for Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” more recently. Does Spotify include both versions or just the unexpurgated?
That’s all for me today.
Brendan Emmett Quigley’s Themeless Monday crossword — solution grid
Short on time today, so just the grid. Areas around SLIPCOACH played tough, and I ended at SANDERS and HEEHEEHEE. How’d it go for you?